A day in the life of our former (now full-time!) engineering interns

Reuben Ingber

Originally posted on the Insider Inc. Engineering blog.

This year, we recruited three new interns from the Flatiron School in New York — Linh Huynh, Devon Darrow, and Sarah Pai. Over the past several months, the three have been fully integrated into our Story Engagement, Story Membership, and Story Commerce teams. They’ve worked on projects independently, together as a team, and alongside other engineers. They’ve tackled complex bugs, built new features, and helped to spur innovation at Insider Inc.

This is their story as told to me, Reuben Ingber, an engineer at Insider Inc.

From left: Devon Darrow, Sarah Pai, Linh Huynh

From left: Devon Darrow, Sarah Pai, Linh Huynh

Why did you choose to intern at Insider Inc.?

Linh Huynh (LH): After completing the Flatiron School bootcamp, I felt I had the skills necessary to achieve my career goals. But I recognized that working and studying are two different things. So I really hoped to find an internship which would let me flex my front- and back-end abilities. After reading Alex’s post I learned that an internship at Insider Inc. was exactly what I was looking for!

Devon Darrow (DD): I chose to intern at Insider Inc. because I love the world of media. I’m an avid news reader and have always found the idea of working for a media organization exciting.

Sarah Pai (SP): I heard about Insider Inc.’s people and its company values. Part of Insider Inc.’s mission is to get better every day, and I see learning to collaborate as one of the most critical parts of getting better. Whether it be from UX/UI, business, sales, editors, product, or tech, you are constantly interacting here. You learn not only from your coworkers, but also by challenging yourself to think beyond your role. It is very rare to see companies make a genuine effort to make that kind of collaboration happen.

All of you graduated from a bootcamp. How did the bootcamp prepare you for your first engineering roles?

LH: Bootcamps are very rigorous and streamlined. They teach you a lot and very quickly. But most importantly, bootcamps teach you how to work with people and think on your feet. You are often challenged with a task that you and your teammates are unfamiliar with, and you dive headfirst into creating something cool. The camaraderie and the challenges make bootcamps perfect for creating software engineers.

DD: Flatiron School was immensely instrumental in helping prepare me for my first role as an engineer because it taught me first and foremost how to problem solve. It also pushed me to challenge myself in learning new topics and building complex projects. Armed with a solid technical foundation and an ability to problem solve, I came prepared to tackle anything, and unafraid to do so. I am extremely grateful that the school prepared me so well.

What kinds of projects have you been working on while at Insider Inc.?

LH: I have solved a number of tickets related to various bugs, which has been a fun and hands-on experience! It has been challenging, but I felt that my team has been extremely supportive. Recently, with another intern (Sarah), I have started working on a new project called “Send as Email.” Sarah and I make a great team. This project is rather challenging as it uses Vue and neither of us are completely familiar with it. So we are both learning as we go, just like at bootcamp!

SP: I’ve gotten a great deal of satisfaction fixing bugs on Business Insider’s website, which has an impact on millions of our readers! I’ve also built dashboard tools for editors, helping our internal teams be more efficient in their work.

DD: It’s been great to be a part of the tech organization at Insider Inc. I’ve had the opportunity to build two applications with React, one in particular that helps our editors with pricing related to Insider Picks products. I’ve also had the opportunity to dive into some of the codebases and work on tickets. It’s been really eye-opening and rewarding to see how a codebase works and to go through the process of integrating code to be live in production.

What does your typical day look like?

SP: 8:30am: Get in and grab some coffee and make myself some breakfast in the kitchen. Sometimes if I get lucky and find avocados in the kitchen, I make myself avocado toast and grab Nitro brew coffee. 🥑☕️

8:45am: Check my calendar and see what meetings I have that day.

8:50 - 10:15am: If I’m pair programming with a coworker, we continue to work together to finish the project. If I’m working on a project alone, then continue working on it.

10:15am: Attend a stand-up for the Story Engagement team. Update everyone on things I’m working on and bring up any issues.

10:45am: Attend a stand-up for the Commerce team. Again, update everyone on things I’m working on and bring up any issues.

11am: Work, work, work. 💪

12pm: Lunch time! Sometimes I go out and eat with team members since the weather has been nice or I grab food and bring it into the office and eat with colleagues. :)

1 - 5:00pm: Go to meetings if I have them. If not, I head over to the snack station in kitchen to help me power through the rest of the work day.

What do you love about interning at Insider Inc.?

LH: The people. I have had an amazing time with everyone I have worked with. My team is so supportive and has taught me so much. I solve tickets pretty quickly, but I wouldn’t be able to do so without my team’s support, especially that of my manager, Dave. I also love that I have been working on real tickets. Projects are cool, but it’s awesome to solve real problems and see fixes go into production. It makes me feel like I am actually accomplishing something.

DD: I love how supported I feel by other engineers, whether I have a question or need help on something. I like that I can challenge myself by tackling new projects and tasks, knowing that I can always reach out for feedback or assistance if I get blocked. Also, the culture here is very welcoming and warm. It’s so wonderful to find an environment where I feel at home and empowered to learn and grow as an engineer, while making meaningful connections with fellow team members.

SP: The culture! People here are fun, laid back, and nice. We try to keep the team culture as tight as possible. I especially love seeing more women in the product and tech team. Recently we hired three more females! We recently had a women’s lunch set up by our awesome senior UX designer, Danna. It’s always nice to get together and build relationships, even though we might not work together everyday.

What advice would you give to future interns at Insider Inc.?

LH: Avocados come in at 10am! But seriously, be brave and curious. Accept new challenges and try your best. Your team will support you as much as you need it!

DD: I would tell future interns to not feel intimidated in joining the tech organization. Be prepared to work hard, problem solve, and generally try your best every day. If these three things are done, I believe anyone will be set up to be successful in the internship. Remember to have fun too.

SP: Enjoy, learn, and aim to get better everyday! Don’t be afraid to push to your limit. Don’t be afraid to say you’re lost, don’t be afraid to ask multiple questions to get clarity, and most importantly, surround yourself with the great mentors that exist here. You always learn best from those who succeed.

What do you love about engineering?

LH: I am never doing the same thing twice. Every challenge is exciting, fun, and fresh. I also believe that technology is the best thing in our lives, and it can do the most to improve our lives as well. I love being part of something I am passionate about.

DD: I love that engineering is so much about problem-solving and building amazing tools and platforms that serve so many different purposes. In a media organization like Insider Inc., this could range from building a tool that helps our editors create content to making the Business Insider homepage more exciting and engaging to our readers. It’s never boring and provides for constant stimulation. You always feel like you’re growing, whether that that means learning some new framework or language, contributing to a code base, or architecting a new application.

SP: You never stop learning. It’s never a dull moment because technology is constantly advancing. Not only are you growing in skills but you are also growing your mind, wisdom, and creativity.

Reuben Ingber